At the intersection of technology, finance and the Pacific Rim.

Monday, April 13, 2009

India and US Revival

Anand Giriharadas who writes for the New York Times international edition, had what I thought was a perceptive view of the US (and maybe India). Go here for the full commentary and the key snippets are here:

The American superstructure is burning down. But the foundation, of
diversity, creative destruction, democracy — these things live on and
will, one imagines, underpin a revival before long.

I worry far more for the developing world, for places like India,
which has been mimicking the American superstructure without building an
equivalent foundation, pursuing the effect without the cause.

India seems, on the surface, to have arrived. There are the
requisite global luxury boutiques; restaurants that serve sophisticated food in
tiny portions with something called coulis drizzled across the plate; Indian
firms that make multibillion-dollar acquisitions; software companies that write
code for the world; songs that win Oscars and hearts many thousands of
miles away.

But perhaps it has all come too quickly, and served to
crowd out the hard slog of constructing a modern society in more than name
alone. Yes, India has Louis Vuitton, but how easy is it to be gay there? Yes,
its companies have dazzled the world, but why do their workers complain still
about the hierarchical, soul-draining work culture? Yes, it won an Olympic gold
medal last year, but why has it been so hard to recast servants as people paid,
not born, to serve?

Success is distracting, and it distracts one, above all, from
failures. And so the result in India is a revolution that feels borrowed,
without all the preceding layers on which to stand.

Today in America a whole way of life is crumbling. But, just as
fast, new visions are taking hold. New notions of permissible state intervention
in the economy; a new questioning of the culture of debt. As an old
superstructure withers, the robust foundation seems ready to birth the eternally
improbable new.

But in India, to which I will soon return, one fears that the
society will succumb yet again to the empire’s joke. Empires bring an alien way
of life to a land; and then they leave and move on. But the colonized, cut off
from the source of their own behavior, keep repeating the old patterns, which is
why Indians still say ‘‘cantonment’’ and ‘‘alight,’’ long after most Britons
have ceased and desisted.


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